FO summons Afghan charge d’affaires over ‘unprovoked cross-border shelling’ in Chaman-Spin Boldak area – Pakistan

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday summoned the Afghan charge d’affaires in Islamabad and issued a “strong condemnation” over the recent incidents of “unprovoked cross-border shelling” by Afghan Border Security Forces in the Chaman-Spin Boldak area.

“It was reiterated that the protection of civilians remained the responsibility of both sides and that the recurrence of these incidents must be prevented. It was agreed to use established institutional mechanisms in this regard,” a press release issued by the FO said.

“Pakistan remains committed to maintaining fraternal relations with Afghanistan. Peace along the Pak-Afghan border is intrinsic to this end,” it added.

The FO statement comes a day after armed clashes erupted between security forces from Pakistan and Afghanistan at the border in Chaman, leaving at least one dead and 15 others injured.

In a statement, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) — the military’s media wing — said indiscriminate fire from inside Afghanistan on the civilian population of Chaman, which continued intermittently through the day, left many innocent civilians injured.

However, Kabul appeared to blame Pakistan for the act of aggression. In a post on Twitter, the Taliban ministry of defence claimed that Pakistani forces had opened fire first, and called for a resolution of the issue through negotiations.

On Sunday, shelling by Afghan forces and a subsequent gun battle in the area had left eight dead and over a dozen injured, while at least one Afghan soldier was also killed in the exchange of fire.

At the time, there was no official word from the Foreign Office or Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, who had told parliament earlier this week that Kabul had apologised for Sunday’s incident and said they would take steps to ensure that such an event did not occur again.

Last month, the Pak-Afghan border at Chaman was closed for an indefinite period after an armed man from the Afghan side opened fire on Pakistani security personnel at Friendship Gate, resulting in the martyrdom of one soldier and leaving two others wounded.

Official sources had said that Pakistani and Afghan forces exchanged fire for more than an hour following the incident, with reports that five personnel from the Afghan side were killed and 14 others were injured in the gun battle.

The closure of the border soon after the incident caused the suspension of trade, including the Afghan transit trade, between the two countries. On November 22, Pakistan reopened its border with Afghanistan at Chaman after a week. The decision to reopen the border was taken at a meeting between Pakistani border authorities and Taliban officials.

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